Council looks to increase discretionary spending

Published 11:00pm Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Selma City Council is looking to designate more funds toward fixing potholes and capital improvement projects.

During Tuesday’s meeting Ward 5 Councilman Sam Randolph proposed increasing the council’s discretionary funding by $5,000 to help with small projects in each ward. The council currently receives $7,500 each in discretionary funding.

“In the past, the council got $15,000 in discretionary funds,” Randolph said. “We have given to the employees by giving them a Christmas raise and now its time that we look out for our citizens.”

Randolph proposed the discretionary increase be funded through the half-cent sales tax fund, which was initially pitched as a way to give employees a raise. Discussion about the tax also centered on discretionary funding, according to Ward 1 Councilman Cecil Williamson.

The half-cent tax fund currently contains less than $80,000. A $5,000 increase for each of the nine members of the Selma City Council would total $45,000.

The proposed increase wouldn’t affect the council’s paycheck. Discretionary funds are normally distributed to charitable organizations or requests from citizens. Forms requesting discretionary money are passed around at each meeting. Councilmen can choose to contribute a portion of the funds or none at all.

Williamson said the funds aren’t normally used for capital improvements, like paving roads, because of the cost.

“Most people just use their discretionary funds to give to organizations,” Williamson said. “In my time on the council, I can’t remember a time it was designated for capital improvements. It would not make a big difference in capital improvements, but you could get a couple of potholes fixed.”

The council voted on increasing funds during its meeting Tuesday. Three council members voted in favor, but Ward 8 Councilman Michael Johnson tabled the increase during his vote so the council had more time to discuss the increase.

“I think there are just some things that our city needs to consider a little harder,” Johnson said. “Let’s look at the budget a little bit more before we make a decision on increasing funds, but it is definitely something we will attend to.”

The discretionary increase is scheduled to be discussed at the council’s Jan. 23 work session.

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